Russian national Sofia Sapega, sentenced to six years in prison in Belarus for “inciting hatred”, has sought a pardon from Alyaksandar Lukashenka, the winner of the 2020 Belarusian presidential election according to the results of the country’s Central Election Commission, reports BBC’s Russian service, citing the text of the petition, obtained by the media.
Sapega is currently serving time in a penal colony in Gomel. On 22 June, she registered her petition with the colony administration, stated her family’s lawyer Anton Gashinsky.
In the petition, Sapega asked to change her sentence to a milder one.
“I just want to be with my family… I want to be able to breathe freely…” she wrote.
Sapega claims that her fragile psychological and physical states as well as “youth and stupidity” had enabled her to commit “crimes”. According to the petition, she had “come under the influence of a destructive group of people”. During her time in the pre-trial detention facility and the colony, she had “come to realise the wrongfulness and unlawfulness” of her actions and is now “sincerely remorseful”, she wrote.
She also noted that in 2021 she had recorded a video message for the TV channel Belarus-1 about the “unacceptability of committing unlawful acts”.
“The Russian is asking Belarusian President to show leniency and believe in her rehabilitation, to give her a chance “to be of use to society and to be close to her mother and father,”” states BBC.
On 23 May, 2021, The Belarusian law enforcement arrested Sofia Sapega alongside her boyfriend, co-creator of the Telegram channel NEXTA Roman Protasevich, after their Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk.
After Sapega’s arrest, a pro-government Telegram channel Zheltye Slivy published a video of her “interrogation”, in which Sofia admitted that she was running a Telegram channel called The Black Book of Belarus. This channel published information about Belarusian law enforcement officers accused of torturing protesters. Sapega was placed under house arrest in June of 2021.
On 6 May, a court in Belarus’ Grodno sentenced Sapega to six years behind bars for “inciting hatred”. She was also found guilty of illegally collecting and distributing personal data.
After the sentence, Alyaksandar Lukashenka promised to consider her extradition to Russia. He said that he “felt bad for the girl”.